12 Things You Need To Know Before Adopting Rabbits

by Emily Bingham
Things to know before adopting rabbits

Are you thinking about getting a pair of rabbits? If you’ve heard that they’re one of the best pets to have, you’ve absolutely heard right. After having them for over a decade, I can honestly tell you that they’re my favorite pets (just don’t tell my other animals that.)

But having a rabbit is no less responsibility than having a dog. You will need to take care of them, clean up after them, and train them just like you would another house pet. And when you do, boy, will you be rewarded.
Keep reading to learn about all the things you need to know about rabbits before adopting them.

#1 Pairing rabbits is not easy

It’s a much easier option to adopt an already bonded pair of rabbits to avoid the mentally and sometimes physically tasking bonding process. But if you want to get a buddy for the bunny you already have, you must pair wisely. Both males and females will fight each other and not all rabbits will get along.

When it comes to pairing rabbits, male and female are typically best. But they don’t say “breed like rabbits” for nothing, so never pair a female rabbit with a male rabbit unless they’re both fixed. Littermates of the same gender are also a good option, but they will both have to be spayed or neutered to prevent aggression, especially males.

#2 Rabbits and kids do not often mix well

There’s no doubt that kids love rabbits because they’re cute and fluffy and soft. But, I’m not going to lie to you, I get nervous at Easter or whenever I see someone getting a bunny for their two-year-old. Rabbits are not good starter pets.

They are not easy maintenance pets, and they’re certainly not up for rough-housing and hyper behavior like a dog. They require a considerably gentle-natured owner and a lot of TLC to be happy and healthy.

#3 Rabbits will dig and chew everything

Rabbits depend on chewing to keep their teeth down and digging for their nails. So, unless you give them other options, you can expect all of your furniture to have little chunks out of them.

They will also chew and dig out of boredom, so you’ll want to get your bunnies lots of toys and brain teasers that keep their attention on healthy chewing and digging, rather than eating your house like a little fuzzy termite.

#4 Not every rabbit is cuddly

Rabbit adoption facts

Rabbits are cute, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. But, what all those videos and pictures of snuggle-buns don’t show is the time it takes for that bond to grow. Also, not all bunnies are cuddly. Let’s consider their primal nature for a second, they’re naturally skittish creatures.

Every rabbit I’ve ever owned has had a different personality. Some were more hyper, some were aggressive towards me and my parents, yet she cuddled with the dog. What this means is that you shouldn’t expect your bun to be anything. Love him or her for their own personality and don’t force them to cuddle.

#5 Yes, rabbits need grooming

Rabbits spend a lot of time grooming themselves, but this doesn’t mean they don’t need the extra care of a brush, and most importantly, nail clipping. A rabbit’s nails are ever-growing and if you don’t cut them, they overgrow and become uncomfortable and hazardous for your bunny. So, you’ll need to clip your bunny’s nails every month to keep them at a comfortable length.

When it comes to brushing, that will depend on the breed and coat type of your rabbit. For example, a longhaired Lionhead Rabbit will need daily brushing, while a Rex Rabbit needs only weekly brushing.

#6 Rabbits are natural prey to dogs and cats

If you have any other pets, you need to remember that rabbits are natural prey to them and sometimes, a rabbit simply will not be safe in your home. Introductions must be slow, short, and most of all, supervised.

You might also want to restrain the cat or dog, just in case. Most importantly, you will have to teach your pet that your new bunny is not a toy. After you do this, they can quickly bond and become good friends!

#7 Rabbits can get fleas and ticks too

Even if your rabbits are exclusively indoor, you will still have to be aware of this. Ticks and fleas can be carried to your rabbit through contact with other pets and even yourself.

This is another reason grooming is important because it helps to check for ticks and fleas. Consult your vet to see what the best prevention method is for your rabbits.

#8 Rabbits need veterinary care

Just like any other pet, like a dog or a cat, your rabbit will need to see a vet at least every year. In some cases, a rabbit can live up to 12 years and in that time, a lot of things can happen.

Rabbits can develop digestive issues and infections quite easily, which is why you should also have a first aid kit on hand for emergencies. But, when things are too much for you to fix, you need to see a vet as soon as possible, because rabbits don’t heal as quickly as other animals, hence their susceptibility to infection.

#9 They need help to stay regular

Rabbit eating veggies

Here’s an interesting fact for you: rabbits and horses have very similar digestive tracts, just clearly on opposite ends of the size scale. Rabbits require a lot of roughage in their diet, besides their pellets.

Some great options are parsley, romaine lettuce, and the tops of radishes (but not the actual radish). Also, they will need a significant amount of hay along with their usual pellets.

#10 Rabbits require a fair bit of cleaning

Rabbits do poop a lot and will require litter training, but luckily, they’re usually easily trained to go in one spot, because of natural instincts. However, this won’t cut down on your need to clean up after them. On average, you’ll need to clean the litter box every other day and clean the cage out every week.

Another great idea is to get rabbit bedding and litter made from recycled paper and designed for odor reduction. That will help keep things smelling way better, especially with multiple rabbits.

#11 They need extra protection when outdoors

Rabbits are vulnerable and need protection from heat, from the cold, and from animals like coyotes and hawks. If you plan to give your bunnies some outdoor time, make sure they have access to shelter, plenty of grass, and of course, a strong fence to keep them safe.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that your fence goes underground about 6 inches. If they can, they will tunnel right out of the cage. Another option is to set down heavy rocks along the outside of the cage. This also keeps burrowing animals like weasels, minks, and foxes out.

#12 Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk

Many people think that rabbits are nocturnal, but they’re actually something called crepuscular. In other words, they are the most active at dawn and dusk.

This means that as soon as the sun comes up, you can expect your rabbits to start rattling the cage to get out for some exercise, which can be a real pain if you enjoy sleeping in. However, if you plan to have your bunnies free-range in your home, this shouldn’t be a bother.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of things you have to consider before adopting a rabbit. These factors aren’t meant to turn you away from rabbits, but to be better prepared to give your new bunnies the best life possible. Having so much to think about may turn you away from it, but I can promise you that it’s absolutely worth it.

When you take these things seriously, rabbit ownership can be so fulfilling. They’re affectionate, social, and entertaining pets that can bring a lot of joy into any home.

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